Quotable Artist: Takashi Murakami

A brightly colored landscape with a giant multi-colored humunculous sitting on top of a hill, its open mouth revealing jagged teeth, seeping fluids while pustules explode from other parts of its ovoid head.
  1. Long A bulbous cartoon creature fills the saturated blue background of this wide rectangular painting full of bright, ecstatic colors. It is surrounded by dozens of smaller cartoon figures. Topped by two circular, multicolored ears, the figure has large, drooping eyes and a wide mouth—nearly as wide as its head—that opens in a menacing grin, revealing jagged rows of sharp black teeth. Covered with blotches of white and muted greens, oranges, pinks, and reds, its body blends in with a similarly colored hill below it. Two small feet with overgrown nails and a tiny pair of testicles and penis, however, differentiate the two forms. A thick, multicolored goo oozes from the corners of the creature’s mouth, and the globs of orange, brown, red, cream, and blue coalesce on the land below. With long white arms, one of which holds a staff topped by colorful skulls, the looming figure appears to preside over small creatures taking part in grotesque, brightly colored scenes, including a few critters on the far left, who purge variegated sludge; another who chomps down on a multicolored phallus out of which an even smaller figure emerges; and one on the right with squinting, watering eyes who opens its teeth-filled mouth to ingest a grub-like form with protruding spikes. The painting evokes a jubilant sense of chaos. The bottom edge of the canvas is lined with low rolling hills sparsely dotted with various two-dimensional daisies sporting big red smiles. A few clusters of fluffy white clouds in the background come in contact with two thick green lines that are visible between the hills, giving the impression of a horizon line. Though the relative size of the hills and the horizon line would suggest a great distance between them, the landscape appears foreshortened.
Takashi Murakami, Tan Tan Bo Puking - a.k.a. Gero Tan, 2002. Acrylic on canvas mounted on board; 141 ¾ x 283 ½ × 2 ½ in. (360 × 720 × 6.7 cm). Courtesy of Galerie Perrotin. © 2002 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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Thanks to the internet and the proliferation of social media, the gap between artists and audiences is closing. The mystery of what artists think, especially in regards to their artwork, can become more accessible. We've been collecting some of Takashi Murakami's most memorable quotes about his work and process as featured in Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg, some of which are featured below.


At 36 years old, I got gout because I ate noodles every day and [I was] smoking and not sleeping. [It was a] very bad condition for that lifestyle … [At] that moment, I was [told] I will die soon. That’s why one of my characters, DOB, was dying—puking and shitting, and you know, [it] looks like a mini-antenna thing [that] still wants to grow or still wants to understand the world. But this is a process of dying.
—From an MCA Talk with Michael Darling


Manga uses [a] Japanese traditional structure to teach the student and to transmit a very direct message. You learn from the teacher by watching from behind his back.
Installation view, Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats its Own Leg, MCA Chicago. Work shown: Takashi Murakami, 69 Arhats Beneath the Bodhi Tree (detail), 2013. Acrylic, gold leaf, and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on board; ten panels, overall: 118 1/8 × 393 ¾ in. (300 × 1,000 cm). Collection Lune Rouge. © 2013 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
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